Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase


Knowledgebase record #497


PAL Question

I moved into a house built in 2001 on a cement slab (slab height = 18"). Around 1 foot from my foundation is planted a Maple tree. I have been told that it is a Vine Maple. It is around 15 feet tall. My neighbor told me to pull out the tree because the roots will crack the foundation of my house. I don't want to get rid of the tree unless this is true. I went to a nursery today, and they said that it is very unlikely that the tree will damage the foundation (unless the foundation is already cracked and the roots make these cracks worse). What do you think? I have no idea if the foundation has cracks that the tree could exacerbate or if a Vine Maple in general would crack a foundation like this.

Answer

I do think that planting anything one foot or less from the house is not ideal, especially a tree. However, vine maple roots have a low potential to cause damage, according to the database of the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute (see full tree record for Acer circinatum).

On the question of how close to a house a tree can be planted, I found the following from New Mexico State University Extension site, in answer to a question like yours about root damage potential:

"A more important consideration is keeping the branches from rubbing against the house and damaging the stucco, siding, or paint and shingles. By planting the plant a distance greater than the expected mature crown radius from the house, you will avoid damage to the house by branches. You will still benefit from shade if the tree is properly positioned.

"Many trees are planted so that their branches are trimmed to be higher than the roof and then grow over the roof. Remember, if one of these large branches breaks in a wind storm, it can damage the roof, so distance from the house is the best protection from such damage. Learn how widely the branches spread from the trunk when the tree is mature and plant at least that distance from the house. Yes, you can break this rule-of-thumb, but the hazards increase when you do."

You may want to consult a certified arborist to evaluate the situation, and see if you can keep the tree where it is. To find a certified arborist, contact Plant Amnesty or the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

Keywords: Acer circinatum, Tree roots
Date: 2007-07-25

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